Across the state, Idaho is struggling to provide behavioral health services under a shortage of clinicians. Meanwhile, policymakers and law enforcement officers are working to combat substance misuse and prevent overdose deaths. Here’s a look at some of the biggest stories affecting Idaho.
Idaho Plans to Increase Drug Treatment and Mental Health Services
The Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) will provide new funding to state and local government agencies to help address substance misuse among individuals accused of nonviolent crimes. IDOC is offering a total of $2.5 million through the new Pre-prosecution Diversion Grant Program, as part of Governor Brad Little’s “Leading Idaho” plan to improve behavioral health services.
“By investing in drug treatment and mental health services on the front end we can avoid spending money on prosecution, incarceration, and community supervision on the back end,” says IDOC Director Josh Tewalt. Those who successfully complete a diversion program could avoid a criminal record, which can make recovery even more difficult.
The State of Children’s Mental Health and Education in Idaho
The 2022 Kids Count data, published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, show that mental health concerns are rising among Idaho children. The number of children with at least one emotional, behavioral, or developmental condition in the state increased. The proportion of children and teens with depression or anxiety was 12.6 percent in 2020, an increase from 11.4 percent in 2016. However, it is a decrease from 18.8 percent in 2019.
Math proficiency among Idaho’s eighth graders declined slightly. The percentage of high-school students in the state who do not graduate on time is 19 percent, compared to 14 percent nationally.
At the same time, other factors have improved among Idaho children. Idaho ranked 14th in the United States for economic well-being, and ninth for family and community factors.
Idaho State University Expands Advanced Nursing Program
Idaho is a mental health care provider shortage area, which can prevent residents from obtaining mental health services. In response, the School of Nursing at Idaho State University is admitting more students to its Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Doctor of Nurse Practitioner program. Normally, the program admits 6-7 students each year, but has admitted 15 students, including 11 Idaho residents, this year.
Idaho Police Seek to Reduce Opioid Deaths
Idaho’s law enforcement has taken a three-pronged approach to reduce fatalities from fentanyl overdose. Idaho recorded 152 fentanyl-related fatalities in 2021, three times as many as in 2020. Law enforcement is working to target drug dealers, educating the public, and partnering with public health leaders to send people struggling with addiction to treatment services rather than incarceration.
Idaho State Police (ISP) officers in northern Idaho have launched a trial program that sends first-time offenders of low-level crimes, who also struggle with substance misuse, to treatment services. ISP Captain John Kempf says that officers also meet with people in community centers and churches each week to warn about the dangers of fentanyl.
The right tools can help behavioral health clinicians in Idaho address your clients’ unique needs. With automatic updates based on state standards, BestNotes’ EHR solutions take some of the guesswork out of your documentation. Contact us today to learn how we can keep your practice effective and profitable!